Wild buzz: Diwali’s quiet, clean sparkler | punjab$regional-takes | Hindustan Times
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Wild buzz: Diwali’s quiet, clean sparkler

Wildlife photographer and conservationist, Sarosh Lodhi, greeted fellow nature lovers and near and dear ones with apt words: “May you all have a ‘Sparkling’ Diwali...Wish you and your family a very happy and safe Diwali”.

punjab Updated: Oct 22, 2017 11:59 IST
Nature’s Diwali sparkler; a giant wood spider with raindrops on web.
Nature’s Diwali sparkler; a giant wood spider with raindrops on web. (Sarosh Lodhi)

Wildlife photographer and conservationist, Sarosh Lodhi, greeted fellow nature lovers and near and dear ones with apt words: “May you all have a ‘Sparkling’ Diwali...Wish you and your family a very happy and safe Diwali”. He backed words with a photograph that sparkled and yet that flaring beauty was clean and smokeless. It did not pollute the environment that had given it birth and nurtured it. That sparkler, unlike the fireworks preferred by Delhiites, did not seek to poison the air it inhaled.

I will now let Lodhi describe in his own words how his lens kindled that memorable Diwali sparkler and lit candles of joy in the souls of nature’s pilgrims.

“Nature has its own way of celebrating festivals, albeit in a most eco-friendly manner. So, on the one hand, you find a riot of colours in varied species of birds, insects, flowers etc, and on the other, you find sparkles, too, as reflected in this photograph. In this image, which was clicked in the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (Maharashtra) recently, you can see a rain-soaked Giant Wood spider in its habitat. Droplets on the web sparkle in the backdrop of sunlight. The image was clicked at an aperture of ‘f/10’ to give out a broad depth of field considering the distance between the insect and where the web (droplets ) started from. This image signifies how a quiet, yet endowed with a beautiful sparkle, the festival of lights can be celebrated in the lap of nature in an eco-friendly way,’’ Lodhi told this writer.

Courting the cats

The Grey mongoose with his cat lover. (Dr Shailendra Singh)

When in Rome live as the Romans do. So, when a mongoose is marooned on an island with pretty cats aplenty, what does that one do? Simple, he turns a cat and mingles as a much-loved single! So goes the saga of a male grey mongoose, endowed with an over-dose of male hormones, who found himself alone on Sajnekhali island in the Sunderbans of West Bengal. The Turtle Survival Alliance’s Dr Shailendra Singh, who heads the global NGO’s India programme, stumbled upon an exotic bit of erotica scripted by nature during a Sunderbans expedition to conserve the critically-endangered species, the Northern River terrapin (Batagur baska).

Needless to state, Dr Singh was not only charmed by the love side-show in the Sunderbans but it pricked the pucca wildlifer’s curiousity no end. “The mongoose was alone on the island but there were about 7-8 cats at the rangers’ station there. The mongoose adapted to the ways of the cats, imitated their behaviour, learnt to live and eat with them and make love to them. The cats had accepted him and we were told this mongoose has been there for years living with the cats. The veterinarians at the station have made videos of the cat-mongoose pairing though the passionate efforts have not produced any offspring or species blends despite years of multiple breeding attempts by the virile mongoose! The mongoose has taken over the role of the area’s dominant male cat,’’ Dr Singh told this writer.

Ecological agonies

Exhibited paintings depict ecological agonies of Mother Earth. (Dipali Saha)

Her paintings are ablaze with a startling red. It is not the red of passion but of danger zones engulfing beloved nature. The figurines of ‘Mother Earth’ are lovely but evocative of a fading, pristine glory. They are wounded with ugly blotches of pollution, mining and developmental expansion. An animal looks sad and scared as a ‘Mother Earth’ figurine stands in the background in a dejected and helpless vigil. Nature is under a siege without end, wrapped in a darkness without dawn.

Dipali Saha is more than an artist, she is an activist, a social worker championing the cause of voiceless nature. Her concerns obsess with the emerging enemy: global warming.

Her art works lament the mechanisation of civilisation, which has subjugated nature and robbed humans of their vitality. Just sample the horrors that JCB machines are unleashing in the fragile Shivalik belt looming behind the tricity: hillocks and bush jungle are being vanquished and replaced by crops and pockmarked with deep sand mine craters that underpin gleaming expressways and apartment groves. Lush crops are actually killing fields or graveyards of vanquished biodiversity, cruelly deceptive in a shroud of green.

Picasso’s paintings and Rabindranath Tagore’s hymns to nature are the Kolkata-based Saha’s eternal muse. She hosted her 48th solo show last week at Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh, exhibiting 30 works on a theme she has worked on for seven years: ‘Global warming and ecological agonies’. Her shows have traversed a worried globe, including Bhutan, Berlin, London and Texas, and all but four Indian states.